How will Brexit affect the self-employed?

Tuesday 28 June 2016

No matter which way you voted in the EU Referendum on Thursday (June 23rd), it's hard to argue that it wasn't an incredibly significant result. However, the UK has been left facing a bit of an uncertain future in its wake, especially those who work for themselves. What does the future hold for the self-employed, post-Brexit?

Unfortunately, there is not a lot of certainty to be found, as it is unclear what will be changed following June 23rd. However, the steps that should be taken to protect small businesses are obvious to many of the organisations set up to protect the self-employed, such as the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE).

One issue is the proposed changes to IR35 legislation, which make it harder for contractors to avoid being taken as 'hidden employees' and taxed harshly. IPSE's CEO Chris Bryce believes this should not go ahead, given Brexit. He said: "The government’s proposed changes to IR35 should now be dropped completely."

Dave Chaplin, CEO of ContractorCalculator, agrees. He commented: "Every public sector body has a huge task ahead of it, so now is not the time to enact any IR35 changes in the public sector," adding that contractors falling foul of the legislation would probably have to put their rates up, which would have a negative impact that is not needed at this time.

Meanwhile, due to the uncertainty around Brexit, contractors may find themselves more in demand than ever. Julia Kermode, CEO of the Freelancer and Contractor Association (FCSA), believes that "the flexible workforce will be key in ensuring the UK’s economy doesn’t suffer".

She added that because of the period of uncertainty caused by the UK leaving the EU, businesses will need the flexibility that the self-employed workforce brings. It will also be necessary if any restrictions on immigration are enforced, as businesses that rely on migrant labour might need to find short-term replacements.

For those who are worried about the post-Brexit future, it seems like this is actually a big opportunity for the UK freelance market. If certain opportunities are taken advantage of, it could end up being highly profitable.

Mr Bryce summed it up, saying: "IPSE believes this new era can and must be taken as an opportunity for the UK. Priorities should be new global trading arrangements, cutting burdensome regulation on small and micro businesses and ensuring that Britain has the most flexible and attractive economy in the world. With these priorities, the UK can be a place where freelancing and contracting can thrive."


By Victoria McDonnell

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